Australia’s Gold Coast

Brizzie or bust…

Brisbane is the third largest city in Australia. Known as Brizziehf-oz1 to the locals, it’s not only the capital of Queensland, the ‘Sunshine State,’ but famous for more than 275 days of sunshine.


By Caroline Tapp-McDougall

hf-oz4Situated on the Brisbane River and surrounded by misty blue hills, beaches, rainforests andreefs, Brisbane is all about nature and the great outdoors, and eating and drinking—of course. Combine the two and you’ve got a fantastic riverfront scene with bikers, roller-bladers and a plethora of open-air cafés spilling out onto the sidewalks and restaurants with grand patios. Note to fish lovers … this is your dream dining destination!

When you’re not wandering in the botanical gardens, in-line skating or walking along Brisbane’s riverfront pathways, be sure to get out on the river on a CityCat ferry or sign up to go to the top of the Story Bridge.

hf-oz5The thrill of the climb
Completed in 1940, the Story Bridge with its colourful history is a twin of the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal. It was constructed using 12,000 tons of steel, 41,000 cubic metres of concrete and 1.25 million rivets. The Story Bridge’s steel peaks are supposed to resemble and blend into the mountain range that sits behind it. The bridge is named after John Douglas Story, a long-standing public servant who, upon learning of this unexpected honour, promptly fainted. Thankfully, he didn’t fall off the bridge!

Today, the Story Bridge, which is lit up at twilight with 500 LEDs, is best known for its adventure climb, one of the three such in the world. We decide to take up the challenge.

If not now, when?
After taking my first ever breath-alcohol test at 10am, I’m zipped into a blue prison-like jumpsuit and latched onto the circular top-to-bottom bridge railing. It seems to be the equivalent of a personal ski tow for the two-hour there and back guided climb, apparently a safety precaution that will keep me from slihf-oz7pping or getting blown off. Good to know.

The traffic, 91,000 cars a day according to our guide, glides beneath me and my bridge-climbing companions and I. Before us, stunning panoramic views of the city start to emerge as we gingerly trudge up one metal step after another—almost 1200 steps in all.

Our leader’s relaxed pace and regular stops make it suitable for anyone with a basic level of fitness as up up up with the birds we go. “Apples she’ll be”, he says (translation: It’ll be all right.).

Good on ya’ mate
High atop the windy bridge, 80 metres above the sea, my knees are shaking in my boots, but it’s still one of those unforgettable experiences.

Along the winding Brisbane River, we see a plethora of building cranes perched over construction sites, a clear sign of progress in this New World city. We hang on for a clear view of the magical Brisbane skyline from Moreton Bay to the Scenic Rim.

Clambering back down the same way takes half the time, and we’re warmed with a strong sense of satisfaction. Been there, done that and have the story to tell.

hf-oz6Gold Coast QT…Young and quirky

They say that Brisbane is a city full of young people, so the Gold Coast’s QT’s upbeat, surfer style is right in line for fun-filled weekend getaways. Bright, bold and curiously playful, the QT is a lovely touch of the not so ordinary. With wide open floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the surf, funky furnishings and the cutest mini bar and amenity items we’ve seen in a long while, rooms and suites are laid-back California dreaming, Australian style.

The resorts vibrant beachside location and marketplace-style dining makes it a surfers paradise and a favourite hangout for the spirited Gold Coast crowd.

And while you’re down under, it might also be worth checking out some of the other QT hotels and resorts in Sydney, Melbourne and Port Douglas. They too have seen-and-be-seen bars, happening restos, stylish suites and that super cool Aussie vibe.